KZUM's on-air existence dates to 10 p.m. on a snowy Valentine's Day 1978, when volunteer programmers David Luebbert and Mason Youngman plugged a tape player into the station's transmitter.
The first tune broadcast on the 10-watt station was the jazz standard "My Funny Valentine," by Miles Davis, from his NAACP benefit performance in 1963.
The first half-hour was jazz. New wave filled the back half of the hour.
"We listened to our recorded program playing on the radio in Mason's van while we froze ...," Luebbert wrote in a station history on his Web site,
"My Funny Valentine" actually wasn't the first tune, but the first one the station played after getting Federal Communications Commission approval. The station's founders, led by legendary Lincoln activist Ron Kurtenbach, had been running on-air tests, waiting for an OK from the FCC.
They had applied for the license under the name Sunrise Communications Inc. years earlier, but the only available noncommercial frequency was close to WOWT in Omaha. And the TV station worried the radio station would interfere with its signal. KZUM had to prove otherwise to the FCC.
"In late 1977, we trudged through the snow and knocked on hundreds of people's doors to ask if we could glance at their TV screens as we performed our broadcast tests," Luebbert wrote.
KZUM's first home was a 6-by-10-foot space beneath Open Harvest, a cooperative grocery, at 27th and Randolph streets. The station made a series of moves over the years before ending up on the 10th floor of the Terminal Building.
Along the way was a building on 12th Street between K and L streets. It had no heat, and programmers brought electric space heaters and wore overcoats to keep warm.
Its home at 23rd and D streets had a landlord who kept his German shepherd on the porch. The dog often could be heard barking over the airwaves.
The station received FCC permission to boost its signal to 1,500 watts about the same time it moved to the Terminal Building. The increase allowed KZUM to reach listeners across Lincoln.